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Organization and Goals

The major goal of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus NORC is to create an environment in which researchers are able to work together to conduct high-quality research in nutrition and obesity. To accomplish these goals, the Colorado NORC aims to:

  • Enhance an existing strong and well-funded research base in nutrition and obesity by providing an infrastructure to support ongoing nutrition and obesity research, providing measurements and expertise that would not otherwise be available to individual investigators, and providing measurements in a cost-effective manner
  • Promote interdisciplinary collaborative, vertically integrated research among members of the Colorado research community
  • Strengthen several NIH-funded training programs in nutrition and obesity that provide education and research training for graduate, undergraduate, and medical students and that assist promising young MDs and PhDs in becoming independent investigators in the field of nutrition and obesity
  • Translate basic and clinical research into programs to improve health and wellness and reduce obesity in the community
  • Improve the quality of nutrition and obesity information provided to the public

The Center’s research is organized around four research themes:

  • Maternal-Fetal Origins of Obesity
  • Investigations in Metabolism, Aging, Gender, and Exercise
  • Weight Management
  • Obesity and Metabolic Dysregulation

Core Facilities

The Center’s work is supported by three scientific cores and an enrichment program that focuses on basic, clinical and community research:

Molecular and Cellular Analytical Core

The Molecular and Cellular Analytical Core supports investigation of human and non-human metabolism from a cellular and molecular perspective. The Core provides analysis and consultation on hormone assays, qPCR, mitochondria function, and cell-based assays of cytokines, adipokines, and immune cell isolation tailored to investigators’ needs.

Energy Balance Assessment Core

The Energy Balance Assessment Core (EBAC) provides support for the measurement of components of energy balance (e.g., energy expenditure and intake) and for assessing consequences of alterations in energy balance (e.g., body composition, substrate oxidation). The overarching aim of the EBAC is to provide expertise and support for obesity- and nutrition-related basic, clinical, translational, and transdisciplinary research for NORC investigators at CU and its affiliates. Services of the EBAC are essential for many NORC investigators. The EBAC provides consultation on experimental design, procedures, and data interpretation for NORC-related research and access to and assistance with the use of state-of-the-art instrumentation and approaches for measuring various aspects of energy balance; oversees the maintenance, calibration, quality assurance, and scheduling of instrumentation and the training of personnel who utilize the instrumentation; leverages resources and coordinates activities with other institutional programs that provide services that support energy balance research; and expands services based on the needs of NORC investigators. Since 1997, the EBAC has enhanced nutrition- and obesity-related research by overseeing the measurement of components of energy balance and body composition with a degree of accuracy and quality control that would be difficult and more expensive for individual investigators to achieve on their own.

Clinical Intervention and Translation Core

The Clinical Intervention and Translation Core (CIT) of the Colorado NORC is a scientific core laboratory devoted to fostering clinical research. The CIT supports a wide range of clinical research studies involving modification of body weight, diet, and exercise to evaluate impact on a range of physiological and behavioral outcomes. The CIT offers consultations for NORC researchers interested in designing and implementing clinical or translational research involving nutrition, physical activity, weight management, and wellness. This includes consultation on research design, target populations, outcome assessment, and study implementation. The CIT has expertise in conducting research in traditional clinical settings and in schools, worksites, and communities. In addition, the CIT core offers a number of different programs for producing and maintaining weight loss including the Colorado Weigh, My New Weigh, The State of Slim, and others. NORC investigators can use these programs in their research studies. The CIT Core works to support the development and implementation of exercise interventions for research projects as well by taking full advantage of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center (AHWC), a 95,000 sq ft state-of-art center for supporting lifestyle intervention studies. The fitness facility at the AHWC has state of the art cardio and resistance training exercise equipment (Technogym, Cesena Italy) that utilizes a “key” system that provides sophisticated ‘supervision’ and monitoring of compliance with a prescribed exercise intervention. This technology allows accurate reporting of the actual bouts of exercise performed by individual subjects participating in an exercise training program. The CIT continues to increase activities in support of medical and e-health interventions, electronic information systems support for ‘personalized medicine’ projects, support for epidemiological and cost benefit studies as well as continuing the work in physical activity and nutritional interventions. 

Enrichment Program

The NORC Enrichment Program (NEP) is an essential component of the Colorado NORC. Educational activities supported by the NEP are very successful in promoting research in obesity and nutrition on campus, fostering the development of the next generation of scientists, and recruiting new scientists to pursue research questions that are aligned with the NORC’s objectives. The NEP’s success is a result of coalescing team science ventures, fostering the development of trainees that are well-positioned for interdisciplinary collaboration, and leveraging resources from existing institutional programs to spawn interdisciplinary team science and translational outreach programs related to nutrition and obesity. Currently, the NEP is working to achieve these objectives: partnering and integrating with existing institutional programs, expanding our impact in the Rocky Mountain region, expanding the impact of the broader NORC Program, and translating discovery with community outreach.

Contact Us

Paul S. MacLean, PhD

Professor of Medicine and Pathology
Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Diabetes • (303) 724-3030


Dan Bessesen, MD

Associate Director
Professor of Medicine
Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes • (303) 724-9005

CU NORC Administrative Offices

CU Anschutz Health & Wellness Center
12348 E. Montview Blvd.
Aurora, CO 80045

Caro Henauw

Grants and Contracts Professional • (303) 724-0820


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